Not in my backyard: Calgarians fight a suburban oil well

A proposed oil well inside city limits puts residents and the industry on a collision course

There’s oil in them thar ’burbs

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Albertans aren’t known for their opposition to oil wells, given crude’s importance to the province. Then again, most wells aren’t located behind a Wal-Mart and Sleep Country mattress store, let alone just steps from a residential neighbourhood. That’s the prospect facing residents of Calgary’s Royal Oak neighbourhood in the city’s northwest this summer as a deadline nears for a local oil company to drill a well virtually in their backyard. And much like opponents of high-profile projects such as the Northern Gateway through British Columbia and the Keystone XL pipeline into the U.S., they’re doing everything they can to stop it.

Drilling for oil in the suburbs might sound unusual, but with oil prices at near-record highs, energy companies are keen for new sources of crude anywhere they can find. Calgary, along with many other Alberta centres such as Red Deer and Medicine Hat, has plenty of the stuff. The company drilling in Royal Oak, Kaiser Exploration, estimates there could be up to six million barrels of oil in that well alone, enough to keep it active for the next 50 years.

Those living near the proposed well, many of whom work in the oil industry, have raised fears of air, water and noise pollution, as well as the lack of emergency response plans if something goes wrong. Property values are another concern: one study by the University of Alberta has found homes lose four to 16 per cent of their value after a well is drilled within four kilometres. While the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, which regulates drilling in the province, has approved the well, the company has held off drilling until June to give time for the board to consider residents’ complaints.

In recent weeks, locals have won support from Sandra Jansen, the Progressive Conservative candidate for Calgary-North West in the upcoming provincial election, who called for the well to be suspended. But even in her opposition, Jansen was careful not to suggest oil wells in general pose any sort of threat. “While I don’t believe there is anything wrong with drilling wells near urban areas,” she said in a press release, “the circumstances in this case warrant additional due diligence.”

Still, in oil-soaked Alberta, the well’s opponents may be facing an uphill battle. According to the ERCB, Calgary already has 12 working wells within city limits, and another 100 on its outskirts.




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Not in my backyard: Calgarians fight a suburban oil well

  1. What do you mean? Pollution? What pollution?

  2. Ignore them.  They are foreign funded enemies of the state.

  3. Drill baby drill!

  4. I wonder what will happen when oil prices decline to $40.00 a barrel, my understanding is a number of countries have high amounts of unconventioal oil.

  5. [ Those living near the proposed well, many of whom work in the oil
    industry, have raised fears of air, water and noise pollution, as well
    as the lack of emergency response plans if something goes wrong.]
    Oh the irony!

    • These people bought houses right next door to the city dump.  You are telling me they are worried about air and possible water pollution now???  Yes, this is irony but not for the reasons you think.

      • “The Reason I Think”? What do you know of what I think? You completely miss the irony:

        They are fed by the hand that beats them. Where they live relative to some snot’s entrenched attitude is beside the point.

        Read again what I posted:
        [...][many of whom work in the oil industry][...]

        The reason they “bought houses right next door to the city dump” is because that’s all they could afford being paid by the gloved hand that lives in nicer parts.

        I hadn’t quite realized the full extent of the abject gully before your pointing it out to me, even as you didn’t have a clue. The wonders of internet….

  6. I’m just surprised that this hasn’t been a more prominent argument the past few years between urban sprawl and oil demand competing for real-estate. The awkward moment when you tell your employer to shove it before they dig in your backyard.

  7. This story would be somewhat troublesome if it were not so ridiculous.  The Calgary neighborhood of Royal Oak borders the city landfill and “Spy Hill”, the provincial prison in Calgary.  It is hard to believe that property values could be impacted negatively by an oil well.

    • Here’s a very crucial part you failed to absorb, healthcare:
      [ And much like opponents of high-profile projects such as the Northern
      Gateway through British Columbia and the Keystone XL pipeline into the
      U.S., they’re doing everything they can to stop it.]

      I stand somewhat neutral on the matter, I work with Progress, I back Nuclear, I build better things, but I don’t believe for a moment that I can’t consider how others react to what they don’t understand.

      You don’t even understand that much. I certainly wouldn’t have you in the front of my organization. You don’t understand the sensitivities that determine how people react…how they *VOTE*!

      If this is happening in YOUR backyard (Pontificate all you like, I think you’re the worm), and they work FOR the industry….how are others in BC going to react when you *tell* them you’re pushing your way through, and that’s all there is to it?

      Some seem to have lost human as well as political sense. I blame the sour-.gas myself. It’s more politically correct

      •  I did some checking on ‘Insider’s claim, more because his attitude irked me. Part of this surly Alberta attitude that’s going to end in grief for them, already making enemies.

        He claimed:
        [ The Calgary neighborhood of Royal Oak borders the city landfill and
        "Spy Hill", the provincial prison in Calgary.  It is hard to believe
        that property values could be impacted negatively by an oil well.]

        Really?

        Wikipedia:
        [Royal Oak is a fairly wealthy community with a population of 7,303 in 2006.[4] Residents in this community had a median household income of $100,273 in 2000, and there were no low income residents living in the neighborhood.[1] As of 2000, 17.2% of the residents were immigrants. All buildings were single-family detached homes, and 4.1% of the housing was used for renting.[2] Since then, several townhouse and apartment complexes have been established.]

        Some would go to any extent to defend their ‘fix’. That sourgas must be some kinda intoxicating….

  8. [City lawyers are looking at options to deal with new urban oil and
    gas wells, after northwest residents railed against plans to drill near
    homes.
    Royal Oak residents expressed safety concerns over the exploration of
    wells a few hundred meters from jails, a strip mall, water reservoirs
    and homes, a project the proponents ultimately agreed to shelve, for
    now.

    The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has launched a review
    of Kaiser Exploration’s project in the area upon the request of the
    Rocky Ridge Royal Oak Community Association.

    Ald. Dale Hodges and Ald. Gord Lowe told their council colleagues
    Monday the city should have a way of dealing with a situation involving
    citizens’ safety concerns.

    Hodges said he knows other cities have agreements with the province
    on how to deal with such matters, but Calgary doesn’t have the same in
    place.][...]
    http://www.calgarysun.com/2012/02/27/city-eyes-protocol-to-deal-with-urban-oil-and-gas-drilling

    • Stevo,
      The next time you feel the need to post in triplicate, please remember what the term ad nauseum means. In urbanspeak it means to chill out dude.

      •  If you’re seeing triplicate…”Dude”…cut back on the meds.

        Hey, do you have anything factual to write, or perhaps some reasoned retort to the facts presented?

        • Stevo,
          Yes. Of course. You have may more than just three posts. But then I was trying to be kind to someone with an obvious fixation on the obvious. Someone with such a firm grasp of the issue that he has to load up on the forum with a meaningless stream of dubious data/factoids. As for the reference to the meds, I trust that your an expert on that subject as well. LOL.

          •  No facts or comments worthy of reference I see….

            So you must be a Con troll. I get it. Nice socks, ‘Dude’.

            I guess you think the Calgary Sun is too left-wing?

          • Dear Stevo,
            Get a life before it’s too late.

  9. The residents of Rocky Ridge and Royal Oak are hoping to stop the well for now until a proper Urban drilling policy is put in to place. Currently Alberta’s ERCB Directive 56 states that notification of this type of exploritory well (meaning it is not certain that sweet oil will be hit) is anyone in 100 meters of the well which was only the land owner in this case it didn’t even include the open air shopping mall 220 meters beside it. If a sour pocket is hit and not shut down in time those residence will need to be evacuated and there are no plans to even address that. This is a lot more that a not in my back yard issue, the engery board says that it take the same safety measure for rural and urban 20 or 20,000 people the standards stay the same and that makes no sense at all. The fact that those that are in the industy are saying that this is not the proper way to go about this type of project should raise some flags. Polution was never an issue with the community, but saftey measures and proper proceedures for these projects are a top priority, as urban drilling may soon be more that just the out skirts of a city it could very well be in the parks in the cities.

  10. So, all you people who think there should be an oil well in urban Calgary and these people have no right to protest…other communities could very well be next. Apparently Lethbridge is being eyed-up as another potential urban oil well site. This is not just about one community, this is about that one community taking a stand on common sense for all communities. Alberta needs to have the discussion about what is acceptable in terms of oil drilling. Or else a lot more people could have oil wells sitting really close to them. Are you people REALLY OK with that? Previous comments in media sources about the Royal Oak oil well have been along the lines that it’s OK to put in an urban oil well but somehow not OK to stick a pipeline in environmentally sensitive areas (as the Keystone and Northern Gateway would do).  Hmmmm….

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